Pain is a biopsychosocial phenomena.

New research by Lorimer Moser suggests that physical pain is a biopsychosocial phenomena.

If you walk through the woods and feel a pinch on your foot, when you look down to see that it’s a twig, the pain will often subside. However, if in a previous trip through the woods, you were bit by a life-threatening snake, then during this commute, when you feel that pinch on your foot there is a very good chance the pain will be exacerbated.

There’s a biological stimulus, and a psychological evaluation that takes into consideration the social setting. All of this informs the intensity of pain.

As the brain feels more “safe” with the stimulus, the intensity of the pain has the potential to subside. Which is one of the suggested reasons for why research suggests mindfulness can help reduce the intensity of chronic pain.

But it’s tough. All of our conditioning is to move away from pain. It will take some time for the brain to start feeling safe amidst the painful biological stimulus.

And please, DO NOT send this post to someone in chronic pain with the suggestion that the pain is all “in their head.” That is not what this post is saying, and that would only further the plight of someone who has to live with the frustrations of having pain that can’t be seen.

The pain is real, and there may be some hope.